IRVINE, Calif. -- Brayden Tracey is not caught up with being a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks.
"This is just the beginning of more hard work," Tracey, the No. 29 pick, said during Anaheim development camp in June.
It's that mindset and work ethic that stand out with Tracey, an 18-year-old forward who had 81 points (36 goals, 45 assists) in 66 games with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League last season. His effort to do the hard work in the slot and around the net to score goals caught the attention of the Ducks.
"His history so far, before we even got him, is a guy that was willing to do certain things to win, put his own self at risk for the benefit of his team," Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. "Obviously we value guys of that high character."
Tracey (6-foot, 177 pounds) said he believes his on-ice vision separates him from his peers. His ability to anticipate puck and player movement adds to his productivity in front of the net. He also agrees with Eakins that much of what he brings to an organization can't be measured with a stopwatch or radar gun.
"Just playing with a big heart," Tracey said. "It's something every organization looks for."
Because the Ducks have more young depth at left wing than any other forward spot, Tracey will be faced with stiff competition within the organization.
Video: Ducks draft F Brayden Tracey No. 29
Max Jones, 21, was the No. 24 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and played 30 games for the Ducks last season. Max Comtois, 20, was chosen in the second round (No. 50) of the 2017 NHL Draft and played 10 games for Anaheim last season. Nick Ritchie, the No. 10 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft who has four seasons of NHL experience with the Ducks, is 23 and had an NHL career-high 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) last season.
Tracey has plenty to work on before he's a candidate to play in an NHL game, but tops on his list is getting stronger to improve his ability to win puck battles.
"Whether you have the puck or you're going into battle with a guy, I think your legs have got to be good and strong to hold yourself and push other guys off the puck," he said. "That's going to be a main focus this summer."
Tracey will likely head back to Moose Jaw after participating in Anaheim training camp. His status as an NHL first-round pick should earn newfound respect from teammates and fans, and he is looking forward to what the season will bring.
"I think this year is going to be a big year," he said. "Playing at Moose Jaw, I think a leadership role is going to come into play, so I'm looking forward to it."
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